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On the Religious Significance of the State of Israel

Is Israel “The First Flowering of our Redemption”?


About the Talk

The prayer for the welfare of the State of Israel baldly states that the establishment of the State constitutes the “first flowering of our redemption." The messianism inherent in this assertion assumed great political force in the wake of the ‘miraculous’ 1967 “Six Day War” when many began to believe that redemption was at hand. In fact, a movement was born that gave concrete expression to this messianic theology.


This seminar will consider a range of religious Zionist viewpoints, in addition to that of the messianic Kookian school, in an attempt at clarifying the religious meaning that can be attributed to the renewal of Jewish sovereignty in the ‘promised’ land. This event is co-sponsored by Hillel at UCLA.


About the Speaker

Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller is a faculty member at Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. He was executive director of the Yitzhak Rabin Hillel Center for Jewish Life at UCLA for 40 years, and currently is director emeritus and also director of the Hartman Fellowship for Campus Professionals. He is a lecturer in the Departments of Sociology and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at UCLA and in the Department of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University. He is also a faculty member of the Wexner Heritage Foundation and was a founding member of Americans for Peace Now. In 2014 he initiated a fact-finding mission for non-Jewish student leaders to Israel and the Palestine Authority which is now offered on 60 campuses across the country. The International Hillel Center granted him the Hillel Professional Recognition Award for "blending the love of Jewish tradition with the modern intellectual approach of the university." Rabbi Seidler-Feller was ordained at Yeshiva University where he completed a master's in rabbinic literature. Seidler-Feller was a rabbinic consultant to Barbra Streisand during the making of the film Yentl.


Dr. David N. Myers (moderator) the Sady and Ludwig Kahn Professor of Jewish History at UCLA, where he serves as the director of the UCLA Luskin Center for History and Policy. He is the author or editor of more than fifteen books in the field of Jewish history, including most recently American Shtetl: The Making of Kiryas Joel, a Hasidic Village in Upstate New York (Princeton) with Nomi Stolzenberg. Myers also serves as President of the New Israel Fund.


DISCLAIMER: The views or opinions of our guest speakers and the content of their presentations do not necessarily reflect the views of the UCLA Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for Israel Studies. Hosting speakers does not constitute an endorsement of the speaker's views or opinions.